|Author Terry Ambrose|
Here's a bit about him:
|Terry's island bookstsore|
A resident of Southern California, he loves spending time in Hawaii, especially on the Garden Island of Kauai, where he invents lies for others to read. His years of chasing deadbeats taught him many valuable life lessons including—always keep your car in the garage.
He's the author of PHOTO FINISH, "Rockford Files meets Hawaii Five-O".
Con men are riding a wave of popularity in fiction these days. From TV shows like Leverage to White Collar, these bad guys turned good are popular heroes. Their popularity seems to indicate that it’s okay to lie—as long as it’s done for altruistic purposes. For me, the con man persona is an emotional playground filled with wonderful toys like guilt, greed, and sympathy. My problem is that once I started playing with those toys, I wonder, why can’t the con artist ever get what she really wants—the big score?
I know, in the mystery genre, good triumphs over evil. But, does the good have to be purely good? Why not good with a little bad thrown in for flavor? After all, if the “bad guy” works hard and is sympathetic and the reader has developed a liking for the character, does the bad guy really have to go to jail? Enter Lawrence Block and his wonderful burglar friend, Bernie Rhodenbarr.
Block’s premise appears to have been that Bernie the Burglar solves the murder because not doing so would make him appear to be guilty of murder. So, Bernie must solve a bigger crime so that he can get away with his smaller one. I really like that concept, but would love it if the decision to help out wasn’t forced on Bernie.
Character dilemmas are my favorite toy to play with in my writing sandbox. Much like the classic scene from Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye says, “On the other hand…” the choices facing a con man can make the story so much more interesting. Does he choose the right path for the wrong reasons or the wrong path for the right reasons? To me, this is where the bad guy turned good guy stories take on a new dimension. And in that dimension, if the con man helped out willingly or even against his will, I wonder if it would really be so bad if he won. The result might not be perfect justice, but it might be just for that character.
What do you think? Do you want your stories tidied up at the end? Or are there times when you wouldn’t mind seeing a little larceny win out?
You can visit Terry at his website: http://terryambrose.com/